Podcast Episode 317: Joe Gagliese, Viral Nation
Influencer Marketing for Real Estate Crowdfunding
Today's Guest - Joe Gagliese, Viral Nation
Joe is "an entrepreneurial-driven and ROI-focused, marketing strategist & consultant with comprehensive experience in representing top influencer talent and securing high-value contracts with major global brands."
That's straight from his LinkedIn profile. The short story is he's a master proponent of the art of influencer marketing and, in this episode, you'll hear him chat about how influencer marketing may (or may not work) for the brand new world of real estate crowdfunding.
See below for more links to Joe's online profiles.
What You're Going to Learn
* Are YOU an influencer?
* How to identify influencers.
* How to activate an influencer
* How influencers influence
* Balancing influencer results with pricing
* Tracking and remarketing an influencer campaign
* Your role in finding and hiring influencers
* Influencer campaign cost vs. paid advertising
* From small to huge; the different types of influencers
* How much influencer marketing costs
And much, much more.
Listen To or Watch the Full Podcast Here
Balancing Influencer Results With Pricing
Adam: There's some tracking of results, some measurement of results. How is that measurement done, and does that back into the pricing in some way?
Joe: Yeah, so pricing ... The mistake a lot of people new to the space make is they price based off of vanity metrics. Vanity metrics, Adam, is just simply their overall following count. That's a big problem, because you may look at an influencer or a social content creator and say, "Wow, this person has a million followers on YouTube. I've got to pay them $10,000 ..."
Whereas, their average view on a YouTube video is 100,000. There's another influencer who's better for the program, has 300,000 subscribers on YouTube - almost a third - and then they're driving 250,000 views a video, which is more than double the performance. In the world of influencer, because it's new, this influencer with a million subscribers is getting paid far more than this one.
My biggest pricing tip or expertise - that I've gained through ... We're going to spend over $20 million in influencers this year, so we do this at a high, high level - is understanding how to pay on guaranteed deliverables. I want to guarantee my YouTube views, and I want to understand what my cost per view is and how that meets the industry standard.
Every platform has different average costs and every type of influencer. Believe it or not, a fashion influencer costs way more than a sports influencer does. It's all supply and demand; basic economics stuff. There's more brands spending more marketing dollars in fashion and beauty than they are in sports.
Each vertical of influencer, each type of platform - each of these things plays into these numbers where we feel comfortable, and we have, internally, this huge system for that. If you're not using an agency to manage that, I would say make sure you're pricing it based off of the actual numbers you're seeing and not necessarily the account size, et cetera ...
Tracking and Remarketing An Influencer Campaign
Adam: Do you now track in the same way as you would, let's say, a Facebook ad campaign? You mentioned remarketing? How does that work? Do you then follow up with Facebook ads, or YouTube ads, or is there any way to follow up? Obviously, if you've got lead-generation links, then you've got emails and names, and you can follow up with CRM, et cetera. But, if it's softer - somebody watched it but didn't take action - what are the steps to now reinforcing the messaging directly from the sponsor?
Joe: It gets complicated, but we're a full-service agency, so with Influencer, we have seven other divisions that can help. I'll give you an example. You run a YouTube campaign with an influencer. You put that link ... You're going to create a custom landing page for that specific link, so that we can retarget against those converted people, which is that hot target. We can retarget from them from wherever the hell we want, really, because they've already been pixeled from being on the site.
Then what we can do is what's called a paid boost. We can boost the post we just did to the remainder of the audience who didn't get to see it, just because algorithmic things and things out of our control. Then what we do is, of the people who engaged with the content, we can retarget against them on social only.
The difference between Facebook ads and et cetera are that when I hit you with the Facebook ad, I got you, in terms of being able to revisit you, make sure you're served with ads at consistency, change creative, et cetera. It has a lot more data and a lot more tracking availability.
The social platforms, in an organic sense, have created these little barriers everywhere that you can't get over. At a certain time, I'd say the biggest difference is a lot of the organic traffic ... I'm on YouTube on my piece- I'm on my phone, and I see that ad from the YouTube influencer, and I put my foot down, and I Google the crowdfunding site. That person is gone forever. Whereas, on a YouTube, or an Instagram, or a Facebook ad, I'd be able to see that type of a conversion. These are the types of differences. I'd say it's about 50 percent as analytically capable as regular paid ads.
Your Role in Finding and Hiring Influencers
Adam: What am I going to be doing to identify people that I want to communicate with? Serious, right? I actually have somebody in mind I want to introduce you to when we finish talking today, really proactively. This is a real live conversation, right? Live Nation Live Podcast kind of thing-
Joe: Right, right, right.
Adam: Let's say we're looking at YouTube, and we want to identify people who are suitable, because this gets back to the same question I asked in the beginning. There are those people who're used to it, to being paid as an influencer.
Based on what I understand from you and our conversation, so far, my area, my field has not really been touched yet, or at least to a very, very limited extent. Zero. Now we're going in to blue-ocean territory-
Joe: Which is beautiful.
Adam: -going to be talking to people who are either professionals or who are not. Either way, they've never done this kind of promotion before. What are the steps that you will take to identify the right kind of person and then to engage them? What is the role of the client, as well, the sponsor?
Joe: I'm going to skip the manual way, which would be, "I can't afford an agency like Viral Nation. I got to do it on my own," because that one is very manual. Find ones that look good through manual search. Reach out to them. Get them to send you their data to make sure they're good. It's a lot harder.
From our perspective, we have a tech partner, so I can search - based on criteria - every single YouTube channel in the world at any time. Your role or the client's role would be to help us get as deadly as possible, in terms of understanding the project, the people that we're looking for, the propensity of those people ... Do we have examples of the past? Just prepping us with as much ammunition as we can to really get understanding.
Then our creative strategy team gets pulled in, and they will create what's called ... It's just basically a roadmap of what are the types of verticals of influencer we think we want to start looking at? What are the sizes of these influencers based on a bunch of different criteria? What are the platforms we want to look on? What is the engagement rates?
They create this roadmap, and then our team goes in, and we start pulling out options from YouTube. Once we've had ... Depending on the scale of the campaign, we run campaigns that have a couple hundred influencers at a time. We'll pull 20-30 influencers; we'll build rationale behind them, cases behind them; we'll look at their demographics.
Then we basically provide the client with this list, essentially, of influencer, rationale, audience, demographic breakdown, et cetera, and then let them help us make that decision, because at the end of the day, everything from an influencer approval, content approval, everything is essentially approved by the client.
If they're wrong, we'll say, "Hey, listen, stop. You guys don't know you're talking about. This isn't right." But, at the end of the day, our clients get full approval of each step of the way. Once we have that and we launch, we'd handle that intermediary process between how to source these folks correctly.
Influencer Campaign Cost vs. Paid Advertising
Adam: How do the results typically compare with just going with a straight ad campaign? Let's take the cost of your services - paying the influencers - and say, let's drop that into a Facebook campaign. How do those typically compare in terms of results, and how do you measure those two against each other?
Joe: Well, I think what we're talking about specifically is how much money am I putting in needs to be outweighed by the money that's coming back, or else I should just put that money right into the property, myself, right?
Joe: That opens up Pandora's box a little bit for me, personally. We have a very strong performance marketing side, where I would say, for a campaign like that, my number-one budget tier of spend wouldn't even go towards Facebook ads. It would go to what's called performance marketing, which is super, super low-cost ad units that are built to convert, so we can get really low cost per customer acquisition.
Facebook, and Instagram, and YouTube ads, and stuff is an expensive channel, now more than ever, and there's thousands of other channels that exist; affiliate channels that exist that we tap into daily. It's almost like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have become the white horse. We have to have them. They're not going to make anyone a billionaire, but they're very important and whatever. But here's the other crazy guys over here making all the money. These guys sometimes do really well, sometimes don't.
Influencers is very much the same thing. Influencers is a hit or miss product, so you got to look at influencers a little bit differently. You activate one and that one sucks, that one sucks. You activate two, they could both suck; they could both be great. It's very fluid and non-dynamic. The more spread you have, the larger the propensity to have a win is.
You have to look at influencer at a tad differently, too. There's more value than just the return. You're going to get content ownership; you're going to own that content, be able to use it in a number of different places. That would have a cost. We're going to get the retargeting list and be able to make our Facebook ads we're doing already work more efficiently. That's another benefit.
There's other benefits on top of just influencer posts, influencer drives me this much money. I would say, on the funnel of conversion, influencers are somewhere in the high middle. They're not a crazy converter, but I've seen them go crazy and viral. We have probably close to 25-30 clients who are on performance models with influencers; where influencers are pushing customer acquisition. It does work. It just needs to be very invested in and taken very seriously. It can't just be dabbling with influencers.
From Small to Huge, The Different Types of Influencers
Adam: Perhaps we've already talked about this, but I've heard of these terms 'nano,' and 'micro,' and 'mega,' et cetera. What are those differences?
Joe: In the world of performance and conversion, doesn't really mean shit, to be honest with you, because you sacrifice things on the bottom end that you don't get at the top end. A nano influencer is someone who's obviously very small. Usually, a nano would be, you have 1,000 followers to 5,000. I have friends who have that. They're very- I don't want to call them normalized ... They're just a normal human with a lot of friends, basically, is a nano influencer.
People like that generally have a really cool propensity to work for great little startups, local startups ... There's different uses for them in a really cool way. They make really cool content. They're really cheap to make content. There's a number of reasons why they're great.
Micro influencers is a whole other beast. It's a big part of influence marketing. Smaller influencers, again - 10,000 to 50,000 followers, let's say- bloggers, et cetera. That's where you'll see a lot of the affiliate programs running. They're posting stuff, and they're getting paid commissions on it. The affiliate space is there; brand ambassador spaces are really big there.
For something like this, is the juice worth the squeeze is really what you have to understand, right? Yeah, the micro influencer is a safer investment for me, because they cost me $800, but how much time did I invest? How much money did they raise? Did that make sense? A lot of people don't do that math, unfortunately.
I'd say the mid tier of influencer is where people play the most in performance and conversion, just because at least I'm getting a couple hundred thousand people to see this thing at once. It's like a commercial almost, and I can justify my time. Yeah, my miss is going to hurt a little bit more than if I miss on a guy with say 800 bucks, but if I spread it properly, I should be okay.
Then there's the macro. The macros are the big bears. I think they're very valuable, the big influencers. The problem is their cost entry, and that ... each level is a higher high roller who's getting involved, who's ready to take more risks.
Because you could pay a nano influencer 800 bucks, or 200 bucks and they post, and they raise a thousand bucks. Great. Then you could pay a macro influencer $100,000 - $200,000 for a YouTube video. He might raise you a million, but he might eat your 200 alive, and it's death. There's parts that are a little bit tricky, right?
I've run performance campaigns on the highest-level macros - $2 - $3 million dollars in 30 days; big, big influencers. It's worked out every time, but it was never one guy or girl. That's important, and making sure that you have someone like us who really ... When we get into that level, it's game on in terms of making sure that every single possible thing we can uncover is uncovered to make sure we're going to be successful.
For our clients, what we recommend usually is a mixture of all of them. But, in the case of this, I'd say mid tier to big guys would probably be the best bang for the buck for what you're trying to achieve.
How Much Influencer Marketing Costs
Adam: What is my entry point? If I'm spending, I don't know, $5,000 to $10,000 a month on production and advertising on Facebook, what is going to be my ... How should I be budgeting for influencer marketing, including your fees and expenses, et cetera?
Joe: What is the average amount they're trying to raise?
Adam: Gosh, low to high tens of millions, U.S.
Joe: I would say in terms of ... This is cool, because I think there's opportunity here with us, even afterwards. Our performance marketing team can eat that stuff alive in a way that I don't think ... We can have a side conversation about that. Getting to that type of a scale where we can raise that whole $10 million, we can do that on that side.
From a paid social perspective, being able to scale that, if that was my project, my paid performance channel would probably be kicking out 100k a month. That's how much we would kick that up. In terms of influencer, I think for something like that to be worth the time that needed to be invested from both teams, I'd say an entry point of about $50,000 would probably be where I would be. I think [cross talk]
Adam: -that's initial budget, is it you're talking about?
Joe: That's the initial budget to run something, to get an idea if this is going to work for that project or not. I know it doesn't sound sexy, or great for a lot of people, but by the time you test the different levels, you get enough influencers to make a fight, et cetera, you need to be there. I'd say 50k is probably the minimum for something like that.
Below that, we could get something going, but our team would have to know there was a propensity to spend more if it worked. Because, then, at that point, we're just trying to hit a vein [cross talk] with a very limited scope, so I'd say 50k as an entry point would be a good number, including kind of everything.
Are You an Influencer?
Adam: Let's start with the very highest level, again, in the context of real estate sponsors wanting to raise money online for real estate projects, how do you define an influencer? What is an influencer?
Joe: The easiest way to describe an influencer is a human who has developed a following online, on whatever platform, dedicated to a specific topic, genre, or their personality. You could be a person who does reviews of technology products on YouTube and people are following you because of the topic of technology. You could be someone whose life is aspirational. You have these nice things, or you have this great family, et cetera. People watch because you're the "perfect family."
Or it's simply you're just an expert or someone who creates stuff that people love to see, so, visually - artists, et cetera ... If you have someone who's extremely funny; if you have someone who's extremely creative, et cetera. It's basically following humans, based on certain parts of traits, and developing those audiences behind them. Does that make sense?
Adam: Yes, extremely interesting. I'd like to try and drill down on some of these concepts. The one that resonated the most to me was aspirational. If we were to look for influences for a real estate developer who wants to raise capital, what kind of influencer might we be looking for? Who would be aspirational? Somebody with high wealth that could mention real estate investing? How would you start drilling down on that to find people?
Joe: I would say that the low hanging fruit would be just what you said - these people who are aspirational in the sense of they've made good investments; they're entrepreneurs; "They're doing it, so why shouldn't I do it?" That would be the first place I would go. I think, from a creative standpoint, that would be the place I would go last.
I'd want to go to people who can ... Influencer marketing in its best-case scenario is really good peer-to-peer referral. You build influencers who have ... Instead of building a best friend who they're telling, "Hey, I just invested in this property through this crowdfunding. You should do it too." Imagine a person with 100,000 friends who are similar.
They don't necessarily have to be thought leaders, wealthy, or know real estate. They just need to be trusted by that audience to say, "I think this is a cool opportunity." Maybe, "I vetted it with my friend who is a real estate lawyer, or my friend who invested ..." whatever it may be. Sometimes, it doesn't even need that level of grounding.
It's like, "I'm a mom. You follow my page because I do cool stuff, and you love the family, and the stuff that I do. I'm a mom influencer." Maybe the messaging is, "Hey, ladies, it's always good to have investments for your future. I found this really cool way that I could be part of these big developments or real estate developments through not having to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars, but slowly being able to participate in these types of deals so that, down the road at X-Y-Z-whatever ..."
I think that's a really interesting approach to bringing in, let's call them, the real humans, in the sense of these are people who are never interested, never understood, or never would necessarily partake, I think, will have a higher propensity to want to get involved than those who know about it already. I think there's an interesting dynamic, creatively, that you could take.
How to Identify Influencers
Adam: ... and has a great blog on whatever it is that she's doing; it's very popular and has a huge following. Is she likely to be a professional influencer - somebody who understands her worth as an influencer? Or is this somebody who one has to approach and say, "Hey, look, we'd like to talk about what we're doing?" Let's you and I talk about how to do that. How do they self-categorize?
Joe: There are so many different ones. I would really look for the ones that are more relatable, more so than the ones that are aspirational. There's relatable with a side of aspiration, because humans are humans, but you have that, let's call them, the Desperate Housewife model, which is this very wealthy, et cetera, type of woman.
I think the ones that are my favorite, and the ones that we work with the most are these relatable mom figures. They're not these wealthy women. They're just like you and I, but they've built their personality online. It's not necessarily Range Rover toting, you know, Louis Vuitton bag women. We represent a really inspirational woman who does these Wine Wednesdays, where she drinks a glass of wine, hair up ... She talks to women, and women engage with her. That's the type of mom I think would work best.
It's just about bringing that audience and opportunity, giving them the information they need not to necessarily make the final decision, but to feel comfortable about going down that path of seeing what it's about, and then setting them off on that path.
Then, from a business perspective, it's the development's job or whatever it is to get them further down that funnel, but it's just allowing us to get larger amounts of people, in a very warm way, into that funnel, as opposed to a very ... If we did Facebook ads or we did standard advertising, it's not going to be taken the same, which is the total reason why influencer exists, right?
How to Activate an Influencer
Adam: Tell me a little the different ways that somebody like this can engage with the product and introduce it to their audience.
Joe: Let's just, for the audience's sake, clarify that there's hundreds of thousands of these types of influencers. It's not just moms; there's dads; there's LGBT communities; there's artists; there's cyclists; there's fishermen. It's very broad.
The standard approach to activating someone like this is to figure out their value, yourself, taking a look at how many people is this going to effect? That could be an average viewership on their content, so we get an idea of how many people are watching. What's the sentiment around the comments that we're seeing on their content? Are they engaging or are they just looking? I think that's a major one.
A big takeaway for your audience would be distinguishing between who's a influencer and who's a looker. Sometimes, people follow someone not because they care about what they say, but maybe they're aesthetically pleasing or maybe, "They make me laugh from time to time, but if he tells me to invest in something, what does he know? He's a goof on Instagram." Finding that genuine connection is really important.
Once you've found that, what we now want to do is approach that influencer with an idea of what we're looking to achieve. In most cases, depending on the scale of the development, or what you're trying to raise, or et cetera, let's say, for the bigger ones, you're going to want to approach influencers who have pretty substantial audiences, and then figure out what it's worth in terms of your payment to them. They're not going to work on an affiliate model, where you're paying them based on the money they raise, et cetera. That world has come and gone. From a smaller influencer perspective, it's about forming the relationships with them and seeing what they want, in order to partake in such an activation.
Go in with the understanding, with the bigger ones, that I need to pay to play. They have an audience. They've earned it. I can't disrespect that, and I've got to figure out what is it worth to me, and I got to take a gamble, just like any type of marketing is. Then, with the smaller influencer, sometimes it's good to get acquainted with them, build a relationship, to let them tell you what they want.
You'll get crazies who say they want crazy amounts of money to do things, et cetera, but you might get people who are willing to say, "Hey, I want to try it. If it works really well, then maybe we can work out a deal ..." Just approaching the different tiers of influencer in the understanding that you need to invest in them, and you need to make that commitment of that financial commitment to make it fly.
How Influencers Influence
Adam: In what way might an influencer actually express an opinion? Are they going to say, "Hey ..." How do they do it? Do they just ...?
Joe: I'll give you two real-life examples of just a pure hypothetical. YouTube, as a platform, is extremely- is way less casual than the other platforms. It's more of a time investment for the person watching, which puts people in a different state as a consumer. They're usually sat down. They're ready to invest 15, 20, half an hour. That is where I think the biggest strength is for raising, in the particular scenario we're talking about. I think YouTube is the best. It's the most expensive, but I think the best for what we're talking about.
You go to YouTuber, and that YouTuber does vlogs, which are basically videos about their life, let's say - let's just make it easy. During that episode, we would sponsor a piece of it where, organically, we would have the influencer either sit down, or is driving, or whatever it may be; them walk through the process of what crowdfunding in this manner is, why they are considering it, or have done it, and educating the audience in a very organic flow in their content.
Then, our KPI or our conversion will come from, "I've put a link below here for you guys to find out more about it. Click on that link," et cetera. We'll track that link through. We're moving audience through that link and now, hopefully, raising for the fund.
In a more casual scenario, if you find the right influencer, you could go to Instagram stories, for instance. But I think, you get in there, influencer goes on Instagram story, does a video of themselves explaining the process ... This isn't rocket science, right? Influencer's explaining the process; maybe even walking someone through the process - on YouTube or Instagram - actually showing them investing in the project, et cetera are all ways that I think are really, really cool.
The reason I mentioned Instagram stories, as opposed to Instagram, in general, is for these types of campaigns, the golden egg is conversion - converting people to invest. A big mistake that marketers make is they'll go to platforms that don't have those capabilities, and we got to rely on people to leave the platform and go.
Instagram stories allow us to swipe up and go directly to the page, and we can capture and retarget against that type of information; we've moved people. On YouTube, we have the link capability. If we were to do what I just said on Instagram as a video, it would work, but we wouldn't be able to track a single thing. Keeping in mind that each platform's components have different features and different ways to utilize influencers to get the conversion to ...